Team representatives: Franz Tost (Toro Rosso), Riad Asmat (Caterham), Norbert Haug (Mercedes), Luis Perez Sala (HRT) and Eric Boullier (Lotus).
Questions from the floor.
Q: (Wei An Mao – la Vie Creative).
To all the gentlemen. As for the economic situation in Europe, do you think it will influence F1? Especially to all tracks in Europe in the future?
We have economic problems in my house – in my team! I think it is for everybody, economic problems, I think not only in Europe. Europe now is focussing on the situation but it's something that we have and of course it's going to touch us in some way. But this is still… I think this is not from this year: it's come in from the last three or four years.
And is it going to affect F1?
Of course it's touching us in some way. We are getting less money from sponsors; you have less money to spend on the cars, on the team.
Do you see the effect as well Norbert?
Well, I mean the general issue is that we have to have this – however you call it – resource restrictions, limits, whatever – who does not see that? Who does not see what's going on? We have to have limits, you know the figures of the medium and high class teams as good as I do. There should be limits of how to achieve it: that needs to be discussed but I think there are quite constructive and good ideas but we need to make sure that this comes through. This is an important step coming to the economic situation. I think that is part of the challenge. We have had bigger challenges in the past and I'm sure we will have even bigger ones in the future. You have some ups and downs and I think these times are very good for learning. You will always learn. You will learn how to be more efficient – so there are also positives. We just need to deal with the facts.
For sure it's not good, the economic crisis in Europe and we are also working in F1 to come down with the costs but thanks to Bernie we are not only racing in Europe, we are racing in areas where there is some money and no economic crisis: like India, like Australia, like Canada, like Brazil and like Saudi Arabia, with Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. We go to Russia, we are in China and I think that's very, very important for F1, especially for the sponsors to be present all over the world. And this also prevents a major influence from the economic side on F1. Because all over the world, hopefully there is no crisis.
Riad, perhaps a comment from you?
I think, I mean it's a given, the economic crisis is not just this year, I have to agree, it's been around for the last two years. But the fact is that it affects everyone around the world and business-wise obviously F1. As a team commercially you will be affected because the companies that want to be part of it will have to reduce their marketing budgets, so on and so forth. That being said, I agree with Norbert: we do need to look at what we're doing internally and be more precise and be more resource restricted to a degree. It's a matter of the business that we're running at the end of the day: I have to make it as efficient as possible in the hope that we can sustain our being here. But it's a given, we can't avoid it, it's there. We just have to be smarter – and one of the areas is to manage our own resources, and hopefully with us working together maybe we'll find a solution.
I will do a résumé, I guess, of what has been said. We have to be sensitive to this economic crisis especially in Europe. And we have to monitor also us being based in Europe. We have the chance, as Franz says, that Bernie's business model for F1 is global. Our sport is the only global sport in the world, so thanks to this global platform, we, as a team, for example, have been able to bring some big names and new sponsors, like Microsoft, who were never in the Championship in F1. Obviously we don't have to hide behind this, we have to be very careful about the impact of the economy in Europe but we are lucky that our sport is global.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen).
To all five of you: a lot has been made recently about the cost-cutting, cost-saving measures in F1. Enshrining them in the regulations was discussed after Monaco on the Monday, it was discussed last week on Friday in the WMSC meeting. I believe you people had a follow-up meeting yesterday. Has anybody got any reservations about enshrining the cost-saving measures or cost-cutting measures, budget caps – whatever you want to call it – in the F1 regulations?